Lawrence of Arabia would've felt right at home in Arizona yesterday as a skyscraping dust storm known as a "haboob" dragged its gritty belly over the state. The historic awakening of the haboob occurred late July 5 and blanketed the area with 50 m.p.h.-plus gusts and visibility conditions so poor that people might as well have been wearing blindfolds. The dust wall was estimated to have been 5,000 feet high and 60 to 70 miles wide, and there's a chance it's not dead, yet. Here's the forecast tomorrow for Phoenix and greater Maricopa County, Ariz:
THERE WILL BE A SLIGHT CHANCE FOR MAINLY AFTERNOON AND EVENING THUNDERSTORMS EACH DAY. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT HAZARDS INCLUDE STRONG GUSTY WINDS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH...DENSE BLOWING DUST...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND DEADLY CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING.
And now check out this video, showing day turning to night as the cloud of dust swamps Gilbert, Ariz. (Thanks to @alexliggitt for finding the vid; there is more crazy, sand-filled footage after the jump).
So not only will Arizonans get their faces sandblasted off by a fussy haboob if they step outside, they also face the prospect of being worked over by lightning and knocked down by buffets of hot wind. Haboobs, giant meteor craters, abysmal canyons... when nature created Arizona, it sure was thinking big. But where did this sudden assault from the desert come from? Was it caused by illegal immigrants?
Actually, no. The dust cloud had its origins in a potent thunderstorm that bombed downdrafts upon Arizona. The upper layers of the earth, already light and friable from an ongoing major Southwest drought, were picked up and carried to the vanguard of the storm. After the dust blew through Phoenix and nearby cities, major rain and wind began their attack. The storm deroofed a school, uprooted two 20-inch trees and hurled them onto a police station, blew over a semi-truck and flicked 20 power polls into the air.
Here's the haboob moving over Arizona last night, courtesy of the local ABC affiliate:
And this is a time lapse of the tidal wave of earth mowing down Phoenix, courtesy of Jason over at the Capital Weather Gang. The title of the video should be "RUN!!!"